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Saturday, September 26, 2020

    The death  of SSR and the Quest For TRP  

Neal Postman said long back, in his book Amusing Ourselves To Death , ‘television is …… most dangerous when its aspirations are high,'. One may add that when it proclaims nobility of motive, it is absolute disaster. TV set out to secure justice for SSR, a very noble aim no doubt. But that justice seems nowhere on the horizon and with every passing day, like images in a hall of mirror, it is receding further away.

The malign, if unintended, consequence of its crusade has left the memory of the man disfigured , a legion of his admirers dismayed ,the lives of those around him, whom he may have loved ,at one time or the other, in tatters , the hitherto unknown details of his private life, his financial dealing , the bitter factitious quarrels of his loved ones at Patna and those at Mumbai are now the subject matter of salacious gossip, prurient scrutiny and idle speculation. A full retrospective on his life, is being played out, 24/7, not as an act of homage to the departed soul , but as successive fixes of ‘pudiya’ for the voyeuristic clientele.The general presumption is that the investigative agencies buckled under prime time pillory, under the plebiscitarian pressure to do something , anything to keep the lynch mob, primed up for revenge by the braying media beast, peaceful and pacified.
Whether SSR was bi polar or not is still being investigated but India itself has been split into a world of bi polar opinion . Even while the official investigation is on rival channels are holding a referendum on whether Rhea is at fault . Half-truths, facts torn out of context to fit particular narratives , half truths that further reinforce partisan beliefs, are driving viewers deeper into fanatically shared opinions. People seem to be living in different worlds of facts and judgments and no dialogue seems to be possible.
Meanwhile Chinese soldiers are breathing fire down our borders, and in their viral avatar as Covid 19 they are raging inland , the economy is tanking , distress and discontent are rising like a tide threatening to engulf the social order but we are busy marshalling arguments and support behind another war being fought on the side lines, between Ms Kangna Ranawat and Ms Rhea Chakraborty. Could George Louis Borges have scripted it better ?

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